Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers: Odds, injuries, what to watch for

D'Angelo Russell, Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
D'Angelo Russell, Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

The sliding Minnesota Timberwolves are in Los Angeles tonight to take on a LeBron James-less Lakers squad. Can they stop the skid?

Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers: Odds, injuries, what to watch for

The losing streak has reached six games for the Wolves. Now, they take on a Lakers squad sitting at 7-5 with a list of their own disappointing losses on the season.

Still, the Lakers defeated the Miami Heat and the Charlotte Hornets by three points apiece this week, sans LeBron James. The King will remain out with an abdominal strain on Friday night and joins a host of Lakers on the sideline.

In other words, this is a truly winnable game for the Wolves, no matter how disappointing their 3-7 start to the season has been, and how hopeless this six-game losing streak feels.

Minnesota will finish the road trip on Saturday night in the same building, playing the LA Clippers on the second night of a back-to-back in The City of Angels.

Minnesota Timberwolves odds at Los Angeles Lakers

Given the Lakers’ injury report and the absence of LeBron, it’s not a major surprise that the Wolves are actually only two-point underdogs, according to WynnBet. Again, this is a winnable game.

TV and streaming info for Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers

What to watch for in Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers

The potential success of a LeBron-less Laker squad hinges almost entirely on Anthony Davis.

Davis has been his typically fantastic self in James’ absence, averaging 23.9 points and 11.3 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game. If maintained over the course of the season, the rebounding average would be his best total since 2018-19, his last season in New Orleans.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, Davis (along with a revitalized Carmelo Anthony) has been virtually the only reason the Lakers have stayed afloat in games without LeBron. Despite The Brow’s best efforts, L.A. is No. 26 in the league in defensive rebounding and only No. 21 in offensive rating.

Integrating an aging Russell Westbrook has proven to be a challenge, to say the least. His turnover rate of 20.8 percent remains astronomical, and his field goal percentage of 41.6 percent would be a career-worst, as would his free throw percentage of 65.5 percent. (Then again, Friday is Russ’s birthday, so who knows. Perhaps there will be some fireworks.)

The Wolves should allow Westbrook to fire away from the perimeter and focus their energy on Davis. Karl-Anthony Towns will need to stay out of foul trouble, and the Wolves will likely put Jaden McDaniels and Jarred Vanderbilt on Anthony to try and keep the well-traveled star from getting hot from the perimeter. The 37-year-old is shooting 50 percent from 3-point range on a whopping 6.7 long-range attempts per game, however, so it won’t be an easy task.

The Lakers do have the No. 12 defensive rating in the league, so it could once again be tough sledding on offense for the Wolves, who need to find a way to get Towns clicking again on that end of the floor.

Injury report for Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers

The Wolves continue to have a clean injury report, which absolutely feels like a trap.

The Lakers are with James, as well as a tri of players who have been out for weeks in Kendrick Nunn, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Trevor Ariza. Rajon Rondo did not play in the Lakers’ last game due to a hamstring issue and is listed as questionable. Davis is probable with a thumb strain.

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We’ll be back after the game with some key takeaways and player grades. Here’s to 4-7!